Xbox Games Showcase Extended is over and, as part of the show, we were treated to a montage of 10 new games coming as part of the [email protected] indie program – all of which will hit Game Pass upon their launch for Xbox.
If you were looking to learn more about those games, you’ve come to the right place – this article contains details on every last one of them. I was even lucky enough to go hands-on with three of the upcoming titles. Read on for my impressions:
Techtonica takes the fundamentals of the popular factory automation genre, and spins them on their head by casting you not as a top-down overseer, but as a first-person character. Set in a twisting labyrinth of bioluminescent, alien caves, it only takes a few minutes to realize how deep both those caves, and these systems will go.
With a chunky, lo-fi aesthetic, there’s a serene but sinister aspect to this – guided only by a mysterious voice who seems as confused about the situation as you are, you’re set on a path to find out where you are by creating a network of production equipment and unlocking the secrets of the left-behind factory you’ve awoken in.
It’s a fascinating mix of narrative adventure and factory sim, but the latter element becomes very important, very quickly. You’ll need to scavenge the local flora to use as biofuel, pumping it into mining equipment to build layers upon layers of machinery. A glimpse through an initially impenetrable window shows how far this will go – you can see a fully constructed factory, packed with unknown machines, a tease that you’ll be building some very complex systems as Techtonica goes on.
Little Kitty Big City
If you wanted to be simplistic about it, you’d say that Little Kitty, Big City is a narrative puzzler in which you guide a cat back to its apartment through a series of quests. But as soon as you begin playing it, it becomes clear that this is a far more self-directed game than that. Yes, you’re given specific quests (collect shiny things for a crow to earn a fish, which increases your stamina, collect bread for a stray who’ll teach you to navigate the unfamiliar streets), but there’s a playfulness at the heart of all this that asks you to mess with the world around you far more.
Your (beautifully animated) cat is much more than a vehicle for movement. You see pots on the side of the wall and, naturally, you swipe them to the ground – and find that there’s a side quest for mischievously destroying things. You see a discarded can and a recycling bin – putting it inside unlocks another quest. In just a few minutes, you suddenly realise that incidental parts of this world are guiding you to play with its systems and, more importantly, just have fun being a cat for a little while.
This is as much a love letter to the unpredictable personalities of cats as it is a straightforward game – and that it’s so nice to control is a perfect invitation to enter its world.
Another Crab’s Treasure
This may well hold the title of Cutest Soulslike Ever Made. With the look of a classic mascot platformer, Another Crab’s Treasure lures you into its gorgeous cartoon world, before baring its claws. It might have a playfulness in its presentation – setting you out as a little crab whose shell has been stolen – but this is a deeply challenging action-RPG at its core.
But don’t think this is just a reskin – there are some very interesting innovations to the familiar systems in here. Key to them is that you can pick up discarded bits of sea trash – soda cans, bottle tops, party hats, and more – and use them as temporary shells. Each one comes with its own health bar, immediately altering how defensively you’re forced to fight. Even better, each one also comes with a unique ability, making choosing the right one for any given fight a necessity.
This comes to its own in some truly nail-biting boss fights. Arenas are littered with multiple shells, meaning part of your strategy will come down to swapping in and out of different equipment to use all the powers available to you. It’ll be fascinating to see Soulslike veterans taking this on and realising quite how much there is to challenge yourself with here.
Other Games in the Montage
Besides the games I played myself, the montage saw seven more upcoming [email protected] titles shown off. Here’s a little bit about all of them – make sure to look out for more news in future!
Save the galaxy – one patient at a time! As the new director of Galacticare, you will build and manage a series of hospitals to keep your patients alive for as long as possible – for money! And also because it’s the right thing to do.
The Wandering Village
The Wandering Village is a city-building simulation game on the back of a giant, wandering creature. Build your settlement and form a symbiotic relationship with the colossus. Will you survive together in this hostile, yet beautiful post-apocalyptic world, contaminated by poisonous plants?
The Bookwalker is a narrative adventure in which you play as Etienne Quist, a writer-turned-thief with the ability to dive into books. Use your powers to journey between reality and book worlds and steal legendary items like Thor’s Hammer and Excalibur to restore your ability to write.
Harold Halibut is a handmade narrative game about friendship, and life on a city-sized spaceship submerged in an alien ocean. Join Harold as he explores a vibrant retro-future world full of unique (fully voice acted) inhabitants, while he does his best to find the true meaning of “home.”
Neon White is a single-player speedrunning FPS where you can sacrifice your guns for godlike parkour moves. You are White, an assassin handpicked from Hell to compete with other demon slayers for a chance to live permanently in Heaven. The other assassins seem familiar, though… did you know them in a past life?
Mineko’s Night Market
Mineko’s Night Market is a narrative-driven, social simulation adventure game that celebrates Japanese culture and invites players to craft whimsical items, eat delicious snacks, and ultimately enjoy all the cats.
Sea of Stars
Sea of Stars is a turn-based RPG inspired by the classics. It tells the story of two Children of the Solstice who will combine the powers of the sun and moon to perform Eclipse Magic, the only force capable of fending off the monstrous creations of the evil alchemist known as The Fleshmancer.